A traditional wreath might not always be the right decorative choice for your home. Sometimes the holidays can only be celebrated with "Robo Wreath," a 4-foot-tall festive robot made from auto parts with a wreath for a torso. Both "Robo Wreath" and classic wreaths will be available for purchase at this year's annual Festival of Wreaths at the Carroll Arts Center.
Carroll County Arts Council director Sandy Oxx said this year has seen an increase in wreaths from past years, with more participants coming from outside of the county, an increase she attributes to the quality and popularity of the show.
In 1998, the Carroll Arts Center earned $5,375 from the 67 displayed wreaths. By 2013 these numbers increased to $15,700 from the exhibition of 149 wreaths. Oxx said the center is expecting to display around 180 wreaths this year, given last-minute submissions and cancellations.
The festival will be held at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 7. Oxx said it's the variety of work that draws people to the festival.
"There are some people who have been here for 17 years, so they've been coming up with some original ideas," Oxx said. "When put together with some newer people trying new things, it's an interesting batch."
Oxx said along with Easter's PEEPshow, the Festival of Wreaths is one of the two major fundraisers for the Carroll County Arts Council, with money supporting the operation of the Arts Center and council programming.
One of the out-of-towners who created a wreath for the festival was Stacie Foxwell, of Joppatown, who said this is her first year participating in the Festival of Wreaths. Foxwell said she was inspired to take part by attending the PEEPshow at the Carroll Arts Center last spring. Her piece features a tea cup spilling out a list of her favorite things.
"I'm so thankful for everything that I have, so I wanted to do a theme of 'My Cup Runneth Over,' where I represent the things in my life I'm thankful for," Foxwell said. "It involves chalkboard pieces so you can wipe off the things that I'm thankful for and write down your kids' names or whatever you're feeling at the time."
Foxwell said she looked at other wreaths for inspiration for her own and eventually built the piece out of repurposed items from around her home, including a teacup with a floral print representing her grandmother's favorite flower.
Some wreaths gave second life to used items like the Carroll County Office of Recycling's "Keep Calm and Press Any Key" wreath, which is made entirely of computer keys and the "Robo Wreath" by Jim Schrader and Bob Pentz, designed entirely from used auto parts.
Elaine Caprarola, of Drumtee drum supplies, put together "Little Drummer Boy" out of painted drumsticks, and the JoeyDCares Rock Orchestra made its "Holiday Harmony" wreath entirely out of sheet music.
Not all of the pieces on display fit the strict definition of a wreath, with paintings and other depictions of the concept filling some space. Melinda Byrd's "Starlight Starbright" wreath painting was completed on one of the original tin ceiling tiles of the Carroll Theater, which is now the Carroll Arts Center.
A more traditional foliage-based wreath was "4 All Seasons" by Sherry Leonard, of the Manchester Manor Retirement Community, featuring wreath greenery from each of the four seasons blending into one another.
The gallery also hosts a room where each of the wreaths for sale comes with an extra incentive for people to purchase. The Washington Capitals, of the National Hockey League, put together a "Green for Red" wreath, which features an autographed puck by Mike Green in the center, while the Finksburg library created a wreath based on "The Fault in Our Stars," which comes with an autographed copy of the novel.
Amy Incaprera, of Gettysburg, Pa., said it's been seven years since she last participated, but now that she's working in Westminster, she couldn't wait to be a part of the gallery again. Incaprera said she began working on her wreath on Sunday, a process that took several hours to complete.
"It was tough to think of a theme, but you want it to sell, so you want something that's marketable," Incaprera said. "I came up with Mardi Gras because my brother-in-law and sister-in-law live in New Orleans now. This way, if anyone doesn't bid on it, I can bid on it and take it to them. I had some other ideas, like a Ravens or Orioles wreath, but they seemed too traditional. If you're coming, you want to stand out."
Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Festival of Wreaths
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 7
Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster